In 2015, Oregon, along with California, led the nation in GDP growth, in part due to investments in cybersecurity. At the Oregon Digital Government Summit in May 2016, cybersecurity professionals led discussions on how the international security landscape continues to evolve, requiring mitigation processes that are even more innovative than the emerging threats. Public and private sector stakeholders agree: the future of cybersecurity relies on graduate-prepared engineers, auditors, architects ethical hackers and administrators versed in the latest methods and capable of staying ahead of the game when it comes to emerging threats.
In order to promote an interest in cybersecurity jobs among young people, stakeholders in Oregon have begun some initiatives designed to prepare the workforce of the future. In July 2016, the Portland Public Schools Coding Club and the Portland State University Department of Computer Science sponsored the Portland CyberPatriot summer camp. The camp was designed to expose high school students to one of the hottest career fields in the state, and provide an opportunity for students to qualify for internships with local cybersecurity companies.
In April 2016, Oregon held its own Cyber Security Day. Sponsored by the University of Oregon’s Center for Cyber Security and Privacy, the event featured speakers from the Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security as well as industry experts from local cyber security companies like Portland-based Galois, Inc. This event was designed to promote cyber security awareness and interest among academics as well as the general public.
Oregon is a national leader when it comes to salaries for computer security network architects. At $120,460 annually, the average salary in Oregon is the second highest in the nation – only California is higher. Salaries are even higher in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area specifically, where cybersecurity architects earn $125,520 on average.
Earning a Master’s Degree or Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Cybersecurity in Oregon
Graduate degrees and post-bachelor’s certificates in cybersecurity are widely available through flexible online programs that are generally preferred among working professionals.
Through a master’s degree or graduate certificate program in cybersecurity students will learn how to architect secure systems and monitor security threats, proactively implement defense strategies, mine and interpret data, and provide risk assessments.
Admissions requirements and prerequisites for graduate-level cybersecurity programs usually include:
- Having a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, engineering, or a related field
- Keeping a minimum GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate coursework
- Some, but not all, graduate schools require applicants to pass an entrance exam such as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
- Some graduate cybersecurity programs also require applicants to provide three letters of recommendation
- Applicants must usually write an essay or statement describing experience in and reasons for applying to cybersecurity graduate program
- Applicants must complete prerequisite coursework such as:
- One year of calculus
- One mathematics course beyond calculus (such as differential equations, discrete mathematics or linear algebra)
- One course in discrete structures
- One course in computer programming (such as C++ or Java)
- One course in computer organization or structure
- One course in computer law and ethics
- One course in operating systems
Graduate programs may provide applicants with the opportunity to fulfill computer science and math prerequisites such as those listed above through undergraduate-level bridge courses. These courses would be taken prior to the student beginning graduate cybersecurity coursework.
Core Courses and Electives Found in Cybersecurity Master’s Programs
Cybersecurity graduate programs typically require students to complete core coursework that includes:
- Networks and protocols
- Secure operating systems
- Risk management
- Network security
- Information assurance
- Security tools for information security
Electives that students may find in a cybersecurity graduate program include:
- Software engineering
- Software design and implementation
- Systems concepts, issues and processes
- Theory and practice of o-intrusion detection
- Digital forensics and incidence response
NSA and DHS Designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Oregon
Selected cybersecurity programs across the nation have been recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security for meeting the highest quality standards. The two designations applicable to schools that offer graduate programs are:
- CAE-CDE – National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
- CAE-R – National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (schools that participate in research initiatives and that integrate a strong research component into the curriculum of bachelor’s and graduate programs)
University of Oregon, Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy in Eugene holds the CAE-R designation for its research-intensive graduate programs and contributions to innovation in the field of cyber defense and information security, offering a Master of Science in Computer Science – Specialization in Cyber Security.
Online master’s programs and post-bachelor’s certificates through schools that hold the NSA/DHS CAE-CDE and CAE-R designations are also widely available.
Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Experts in Oregon
The Silicone Forrest is home to offices for Tripwire, IBM, Cisco, Galois, Symantec, and Intel Security, among many other companies, both international and local. With the importance of information security to all areas of business, Oregon is becoming a major player in the cybersecurity arena.
A 2015 report published by job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies found that cybersecurity job postings in Oregon rose by an astounding 136 percent between 2010 and 2014. Employment opportunities in this field in Oregon show no signs of slowing down.
The following job listings were sourced in June 2016 to illustrate the kind of professional opportunities available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity graduates in Oregon, but are not intended to imply any guarantee of employment:
Network Security/Information Assurance Engineer II, Five Rivers – Portland, OR
- Develop information systems assurance programs and control guidelines
- Provide network security policy recommendations, project planning, change control, firewall management, and routing Access Control List management
- Enforce configuration policy, routine maintenance, VPN policy recommendations, system maintenance
- Plan network development and expansion as needed
- Bachelor’s degree in information technology or related field required; master’s degree preferred
- Five years of practical experience in data network engineering, installation or administration in an enterprise network environment
- S. citizenship and active Secret clearance
- DoDI 8570.01-M IAT Level III certification
Cyber Security Analyst, Nike – Portland, OR
- Provide first tier support for all request coming into department
- Understand security technology and log collection, correlation and alerting technologies
- Follow best practices, good judgment and problem solving skills to execute security operations
- Make good decisions under pressure
- Bachelor’s degree in cyber security or related field; master’s degree preferred
- Network+ and or Security + certification required
- Experience with Windows Server/Workstation and Mac OS
- Experience using Splunk, Unix and Linux preferred
Security Specialist, Legislative Administration, State Capitol – Salem, OR
- Create and execute applications and infrastructure security projects and initiatives to protect, defend against and respond to cyber security threats
- Implement and perform operational best practices in protecting, defending and responding to activities
- Provide multi-tiered support of security technologies in the legislative branch of state government
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required; graduate degree preferred
- Excellent problem solving and troubleshooting skills
- Skill in analyzing complex written materials
- Experience in configuring and managing network firewalls
Cyber Threat Analyst, Intel – Hillsboro, OR
- Provide all source intelligence and intrusion analysis by responding to advanced adversary attacks and penetration testing
- Provide assistance and support in other risk management or information security projects
- Bachelor’s degree in cyber security or related field required; master’s degree preferred
- Three or more years of experience in intrusion analysis for a large-scale enterprise environment
- Fluency in Python, Ruby, Power Shell, C#, Bash, Perl and/or C++ preferred
- Certified Information Security Systems Professional certification preferred